Do Your Natural Thing

From Human Zoos to Animal Zoos: Rethinking Entertainment

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It often surprises me, how many people still go to zoos these days, even among conscious or non-mainstream groups of people. The modern colonized mindset easily forgets history’s transgressions.  Take a moment to learn, or refresh your memories on the appalling legacy of human zoos.

In the not so distant past, European invaders kidnapped Indigenous peoples to put them on display in zoos throughout Europe. The parallels between the kidnap and display of humans and modern zoos is very clear, and shocking when you think about it.  By definition, both acts can be defined as slavery.  According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, slavery is defined as:  1. The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household, and 2. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force.

You take someone from their natural habitat, where they are happy, healthy, wild and free, and forcibly confine them.  You then make a massive profit by putting them on display to people who have been effectively trained to see nothing wrong with the situation.

I am a big proponent of teaching your kids the truth, I mean really educating them.  Raising them to be adults who see beyond the veil of deception so carefully put over the eyes of the masses with colonization.  So the idea of teaching our kids to view the zoo experience as normal and fun seems counter intuitive.  The idea of zoos is very foreign to me, and I remember even as a child, when I last went to a zoo on a school field trip, I could clearly feel the sadness of the imprisoned animals.  Here we are, kidnapping animals from the wild, and breeding them, keeping them confined – though they are innocent of any offense.

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NO ONE CAN BE HAPPY LIVING IN CAPTIVITY

Zoochosis is a term used to describe the obsessive, repetitive and otherwise unnatural behaviors which often develop in captive animals.  Behaviors such as pacing, head nodding, swaying, excessive grooming and self mutilation are just a few of the common symptoms.  These behaviors are non existent in wild animals and are caused by the sheer stress, immense mental suffering and unnatural lifestyles that these animals are subjected to.  As a result, some zoos drug the animals with anti-depressants and tranquilizers in an effort to “control” the problem.

These highly social animals have been ripped away from their families and put into an environment with severely limited ability to have any form of community.  Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to live your entire life in solitude, or with one (or a handful if you are lucky) other person.  Imagine that you have no access to anyone of your kind outside of your cage, ever.  Pretty depressing.

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NO CAGE CAN REPLICATE FREEDOM

Some argue that the zoo cages are set up to replicate the natural habitats of the animals enslaved in them.  No matter how sophisticated, throwing a few rocks and trees into the cage will never come close to replicating the natural environment of these animals.

Also, logistically it is not possible for zoos to provide adequately sized cages.  Elephants for example, in their natural environment walk up to 40 miles per day.  This daily exercise is essential to their health and well being, and without it elephants can develop arthritis, foot abscesses and other bone and joint disease.  According to an article in Psychology Today entitled Please Don’t Visit Zoos, the enclosure for elephants at the Dallas Zoo is so small that it is the equivalent of a human living an entire lifetime in a two car garage.

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THE MYTH OF CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION

Keeping animals enslaved, forcing them into a miserable, abbreviated life teaches our communities nothing of value.  How about if instead, we teach our children compassion for other creatures with whom we share this world.  Teach them about their own rights, and how animals also have the right to freedom, dignity and joy. Teach them that they should not spend money making unethical zoo owners rich, nor should they spend their time gawking at enslaved animals.

Despite media propaganda to the contrary, it is still common practice for animals to be stolen from the wild to be used for profit in zoos.  It is true that there are many breeding programs in place to maintain the population of captive animals.  Animals born into these breeding programs often die much younger than those who are born wild.  It is worth noting, however, that either way, animals who spend their lives in captivity have significantly shorter lifespans than their wild counterparts, largely because of the unnatural diseases inherent in captivity.

People love babies, and baby animals are no exception.  It is common practice to breed babies, and then sell them once they are no longer cute cuddly babies anymore.  Many of these animals end up in circuses and on trophy ranches, where they are “hunted” at close range and killed to supply a manly feeling and a trophy head for a rich man’s wall.

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WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

First and foremost, stop funding the capture, breeding and enslavement of animals by not visiting zoos and aquariums.  The people have power in their pocket books, stop buying the tickets.  Spread the word, and maybe you will get through to others; teach your children.  If your kids are in the school system, don’t allow them to go on school-sponsored trips to the zoo; send the message to the school board that this is no way to educate our youth.

If a fraction of the money spent on building, maintaining and visiting zoos each year was instead used to fund protection and conservation methods for wild animals, we could certainly make a difference.  How about putting some money into the protection of wild habitats from the encroachment of corporate exploitation?

Obviously, we can’t all travel to see most of these animals in their natural habitats, but we can take lots of trips outdoors, and see the animals native to where we live.  We can also learn about and see animals in books and documentaries, for which they do not have to suffer a lifetime of misery.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “From Human Zoos to Animal Zoos: Rethinking Entertainment

  1. Carol

    You made a lot of good points. I remember my last visit to a zoo, too. It was very depressing seeing all those animals in cages. To me those cages are like prisons, even the cushy ones with rocks and trees thrown in. The animals are like prisoners who have never committed any crimes.

    Another reason I dislike zoos is because people think, as you said, that they are for conservation. In reality, the function of zoos is the opposite of conservation. People are constantly encroaching more and more on wild animals’ homes. An ever growing number of species are in danger of becoming endangered or extinct. So off the remaining animals go to zoos, so we can “save” them. This isn’t saving them, though, it’s destroying them – the opposite of conserving.

    There is no true education you can get from visiting a zoo, except maybe an education on how cruel we can be. You don’t learn about how animals actually live, you don’t feel our connection to animals as part of the natural world. It has the opposite effect, teaching people that animals are simply objects for us to use as entertainment.

    People feel so entitled in our culture, like we have the right to destroy these animals’ lives so we can go stare at them any time we want to. Like the people who feel they have more right to an animal’s fur coat than the animal does. I hope your article helps start to abolish zoos!

    1. doyour7_wp Post author

      Thanks for the comment! I agree, it is very depressing to see all the suffering animals in zoo. I totally agree with you, if the message can be spread, and lead to a generation that sees zoos as the appalling institutions they are!

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